Dishwashers not only save homeowners time when cleaning up after meals, but they also use less water than washing dishes in the sink. When it comes to choosing a new dishwasher, there are several options available, but the first decision is usually whether to get a built-in or free-standing model. The best choice depends on your needs, kitchen layout and preferences.
Options and Features
Built-in dishwashers typically have more advanced features than freestanding models, such as multiple spray arms, specialized wash cycles and targeted sprays for hard-to-clean items like pans or baking dishes. Freestanding dishwashers are not without features, though. You can find these dishwashers with convenient options such as load-sensing technology and digital timers, as well as multiple cycles.
Style and Design
A built-in dishwasher fits beneath your counter top, flush to your kitchen cabinets. This provides a neat, streamlined look, which many homeowners prefer. A freestanding dishwasher is finished on all sides and on the top, so you can place it anywhere in your kitchen. Some manufacturers offer freestanding dishwashers that have customized cabinet facing so that it can sit next to your cabinets and blend in.
Size and Capacity
Built-in dishwashers are typically 24 inches wide and hold between 12 and 14 standard place settings. If you have more than two people in your home, these units are ideal because they can wash a large number of dishes at one time. Freestanding or portable dishwashers are typically smaller, at about 18 inches wide, which holds about eight place settings. This is ideal for a small homes or apartments with fewer than three occupants.
Versatility and Convenience
Built-in dishwashers are permanently installed into your kitchen, which means that when you move, it usually gets left behind, but a freestanding dishwasher can go with you when you move. A freestanding dishwasher allows you to have extra storage space because you don’t have to store it under your counter. The top of freestanding dishwashers are often covered in cutting boards or countertop materials, giving you additional cutting or prep space. If your kitchen is small, however, freestanding units may get in the way and make your space feel more cluttered. Because built-in dishwashers are permanently stored beneath your counter, they’re out of the way but take up space you could have used for extra cabinets or drawers. Since they’re installed directly to the water supply, though, built-in dishwashers can run while you use your faucet and sink for other things. A freestanding dishwasher takes up your sink and connects to your faucet. Though they may have bypass valves that allow you to run water, this is still less convenient than a built-in.
Cost and Installation
Typically, a freestanding dishwasher costs less than a built-in model. While both types of dishwashers feature energy-saving cycles that keep your utility bills down, a freestanding unit doesn’t require special installation. It usually connects to your kitchen faucet and drains directly into the sink. A built-in dishwasher must be installed, which may lead to additional costs if you have to hire a plumber to install or connect water lines. If your kitchen cabinetry doesn’t have an opening, modifications can incur more costs.
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